Why Does My Current Music Sound So Much Better than It Did in the 80’s?

I’ve got to ask…maybe someone here knows…is my current system more realistic sounding than what I used to listen to in the 80’s? I’m just impressed by the sound I have now, I just don’t remember it sounding in the 80’s so real, present and full range.

Then I had a Marantz 2245, JBL L166 tower speakers, usually vinyl on a Dual turntable with a Shure V15 Type 2 or 3.  This was decent stuff at that time.

Now I listen to internet radio on my iPad, usually radio.garden jazz, through an Apple AirPort Express router, to B&O BeoLab8000 speakers, a Hsu ULS 15 Mk II and a Paradigm Series 7 12in Monitor sub.  I set up In a big 20ft by 40ft room now with lots of hard surfaces.  I’ve invested very little in this system, yet I’m amazed at the sound.

it’s unlikely that my ears are better…anyone care to rake a stab at why things sound so better to me now?  It would be interesting to understand the evolution of sound.


Agree about the re-pressings from the 80's and 90's - they were terrible. Whenever I would find a new title back then - something that in original form would go for hundreds of dollars - I would get really excited until I listened to it. Record companies were in the market of selling vinyl, and latter plastic. They didn't need to worry as much about public scrutiny of their repressing's since there were no forums like this where people got together and criticized the actual sound. Compare any original 78 or 33 against any 80's repressing and you'll see what I mean. There are a few exceptions - Edsel and Charley come to mind. Over the years I have found that some stylus shapes deal with these better than others. The denon 103 is my go to cart for bad pressings. 

I have a pretty good stash of 80's and 90's vinyl and previously owned many cd's from same era. While much of the vinyl is pretty bad, overly compressed and electronic haze, the cd's are absolutely atrocious, have all the vinyl liabilities, then add crap analog/digital converters then is use, hopeless!


Now with streaming I can hear these same recordings, re-mastered, most sound nothing like the original releases, either on vinyl or digital. If done well, these recordings become very listenable, even on my main system.



Ha, twoleftears!

of course it would take an exceptional circumstance to remember what a stereo sounded like 40 years ago, likely requiring the exact same music.  My system at that time did sound good.  But what I’m sure I did not hear the was notes that sounded real and present, like they were live just a few feet from me.  I never experienced that until I started listening to my present system. I started with an AirPort Express, then Apple did a software upgrade and my music started cutting out.  I found out that Apple had made an Airport Express with a higher kbps, so I bought one for $20.  That did the trick, no more cutoffs and the music sounded even better.  There’s an analysis of them by Ken Rockwell who concludes that they have “fantastic audio quality.”

One of the big differences from 40 years ago and now is a dramatic drop in the noice floor and increasing differentiation of discrete sounds within the music. There are lots of other changes. But I think those are the two main ones.


I have followed the cutting edge (distantly at first… with a very low budget… but increasing over time) for the last fifty years. What is possible now at a relatively modest budget… and even more at a less modest budget is incredible. 

If you were to upgrade to even a Bluesound streamer or better, inexpensive integrated amp, and some contemporary floor standing HiFi speakers (B&W, Dynaudio, Sonus Faber… etc), you would just fall over in awe of what audio can be today.